I’m currently sitting in my apartment watching some of wrestling’s greatest feuds and it makes me smile. I get butterflies in my stomach and am momentarily transferred back to being 12 years old, transfixed with the larger than life characters popping off the screen. At that time wrestling was the only thing on my brain. I was consumed with wrestling thoughts night and day and dreaming about one day stepping into the ring myself. Fast forward 14 years and I made that dream a reality. For the past 9 years I have been performing under the name Hannah Blossom as one half of The Blossom Twins. I, along with my sister Kelly (Holly) have wrestled some of the people we watched and looked up to growing up, such as Mickie James and Gail Kim. We’ve wrestled in front of 8000 people at London’s Wembley arena, we’ve starred in a reality TV show all about wrestling, appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, had our own Sky TV advert and been clotheslined by James Corden. Needless to say, a lot has happened!
But sitting here on my couch watching the likes of Austin, Rock, Bruno Sammartino, Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan, it got me to thinking. This is wrestling!!! This is the wrestling that I can’t get enough of, the kind of wrestling that can stop me from picking up my phone and pinning till my heart’s content or looking through my Instagram, this wrestling draws me in and is simply captivating.
I’ve always been encouraged to know my history and loved watching old tapes when I was learning. I loved hearing my trainer, Rip Rogers, tell stories of the old days and what wrestling used to be like. I knew it was important as a wrestler to do your research and respect who came before you. I must admit though, I would sometimes get lazy. I’m no good remembering dates of matches and watching old wrestling would sometimes just consist of watching the tag team, The Rockers. I seriously love them and to this day would love to be able to emulate them. However, lately while taking a break from wrestling I have found myself watching it more and more and one guy who stood out to me and who I absolutely love is Bruno Sammartino. Though I was familiar with the name before, I have to say I couldn’t tell you of a match I had seen of his, but that all changed a few weeks back. When watching ’50 Years of WWE’ with my husband, the pictures flashing across my TV screen of this huge, beast of a man who looked like he could legitimately kick your ass, got my attention. I proceeded to listen intently and watch closely.
One thing I should mention, is that I am half Italian and absolutely adore anything to do with Italy, so of course Bruno got over with me right away as soon as he talked about his childhood in Italy and growing up in the mountains. This is something of which I have spent countless hours hearing stories about, as my Grandad grew up in the mountains of the Amalfi coast. (Us girls and our emotional attachments.) OK so that may have been one of my reasons for my staying tuned in but the other reason…this guy looked incredible, to me he looked like the epitome of what a wrestler should be. This past year alone I have had countless training sessions and had numerous discussions of what it takes to be a wrestler, the whole package some would say, the charisma, the pyro, the outfits, the physique, the colour, the moves, being unique, but as I stared at the screen in front of me the guy I was looking at wasn’t doing a whole lot of talking, he wasn’t whooping and hollering. I recall him having plain coloured wrestling trunks, heck I’m not even sure in this match that he had music let alone pyro, and he sure as hell wasn’t doing moonsalts and triple back flips, yet a simple wave to the crowd could make them erupt with delight. This guy was a hero. This guy was a wrestler. Plain and simple!!I was glued to the screen watching as he wrestled Billy Graham for the then WWF Championship. These two men are to me what wrestling is all about. Watching the match it front of me, it was clear there was a good guy and a bad guy and the story that was being told in front of me was the classic age old story of good vs evil. It was the blue collar working man who achieved the American Dream in New York City vs the pompous muscle bound jerk too good to associate with the everyday man and not afraid to take the low road. Together in the ring, these two men worked with each other to create true feelings of love and hate for every single person watching. These guys were stars but in that ring they weren’t trying to out shine one another. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard stories and am quite certain that in those days you still had people arguing and wanting their shot and trying to stand out, but in that ring all I saw was two people wrestling to entertain the crowd, to draw out that emotion. I could feel it when I watched it and it genuinely gave me goose bumps. I’m not sure if it’s just me but I don’t believe Bruno Sammartino had to “shoot” or “go against authority” to sell out and headline Madison Square garden 11 years in a row. Yes I said 11!! I don’t want to sound like I am having a go at wrestling today, as times change and audiences change, but I can’t help but feel sad when I watch it. No longer is it just about being good and bad, and good triumphing over evil. There is now a blurred line that defines today’s heroes. There was a time when getting the match or a program “over” was the primary focus before flashy moves and sexy costumes. There was a time where the wrestlers loved the wrestling and knew their role and felt it in their bones and they couldn't wait to get out there and play it to the best of their ability. Nowadays, it seems (and I've experienced it) “bad guys” don’t want to be bad guys. Rather they work to be the ones getting cheered and being viewed as better than the hero, making it nearly impossible for people to hate them. Heaven for bid, you shine and stand out and be the biggest hero that you are meant to be! It seems to me that that art of entertainment and wrestling is only to be seen in the walls of the Danny Davis Arena in Louisville Kentucky between 11-3pm Saturday’s and Sundays and my Gosh I love Rip Rogers for that.
I finished watching “50 Years of WWE” and it was Bruno, Billy Graham and the likes of Mr Perfect that I excitedly talked about to my husband, over and over and over again! I fell for the passion, the storytellers and the guys that were stars in their own rights but cared about what they were portraying in that ring. The guys who understood that they needed each other to be that star!! And stars they truly were!!
Who are your favourite wrestlers from past or present?
Hope you've had an awesome day! :)
Love Lulu xx